Get Modern Marks Fabric Bundles For a Limited Time!

Awesome news! I just found out my shipment of Modern Marks yardage will be arriving much earlier than anticipated! This is my debut fabric collection with Benartex and I can’t wait to share it with the world!! My fabric delivery is scheduled to come while I’m teaching at MQX Quilt Festival next weekend, but you can pre-order custom bundles now in these four sizes: Fat Eights, Fat Quarters, Half Yards, and Yard bundles.

Click here to purchase Modern Marks fabric bundles. They’ll ship Oct 3rd.

Modern Marks Fabric by Christa Watson

Modern Marks by Christa Watson for Benartex – 26 Bright Graphic Prints

The cutoff for pre-orders will be on Saturday, September 30th, or until they sell out, whichever comes first, and once they’re gone, that’s it. So don’t delay – put in your pre-order now so you’ll be among the first to get your hands on my fabric!

Now here’s the catch – I’m not selling any of the fabric by the yard, because honestly that would be too much for me to manage. But you can ask your favorite quilt shop to stock it if you are wanting yardage of a particular print.

Modern Marks Bundles

Modern Marks bundles include all 26 fabrics shown above in these sizes:
Fat Eights – 9″ x 21″ pieces (3 1/4 yards total) – $34.95
Fat Quarters – 18″ x 21″ pieces (6 1/2 yards total) – $69.95 (Less than $3 per FQ!!)
Half Yards – 18″ x 42″ pieces (13 yards total) – $139.90
Full Yards – 36″ x 42″ pieces (26 yards total) – $249.95 (Best value – under $10 bucks per yard!!)
SPECIAL PRE-ORDER PRICING IS VALID THROUGH 9/30!!

Click here to purchase your Modern Marks bundle.

Modern Marks FQ Bundle

Modern Marks photos by HollyAnne Knight from String and Story

I’m happy to ship anywhere in the world (just know that overseas shipping is super spendy and sadly there’s not much I can do about it). If you get a bundle and start working with it, be sure and use the hashtag #modernmarksfabric on social media. I’d love to see what you are creating!

Modern Marks Strips

I hope you love Modern Marks as much as I do!

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Piece and Quilt with Precuts Quilt 2: Gridwork

The second quilt featured in my book Piece and Quilt with Precuts is called “Gridwork.”

Gridwork by Christa Watson from Piece and Quilt with Precuts

Gridwork Photography courtesy of Martingale/That Patchwork Place and Brent Kane.

Piece It

Gridwork is made from one set of 5″ squares and one set of 10″ squares. In traditional quilting, blocks are usually laid out in a “grid” format. However, modern quilters like to break up the grid or present blocks in an alternate grid layout. In this case, you can see that this quilt is arranged in a 6×7 traditional grid layout (6 blocks across by 7 blocks down). But the blocks themselves are rotated in a haphazard fashion to obscure the grid and make it a bit more interesting.

Gridwork from Piece and Quilt with Precuts

We took this quilt on a recent camping trip to get some pretty shots of it in nature.

The secret is to piece the blocks in a few similar, but slightly different ways and then rotate them to trick the viewer into thinking there’s much more variation in the blocks. In my book, step by step instructions are given on how to create the different blocks. Plus, a full color layout is included with each quilt pattern so there’s no guesswork when it comes time to assemble the quilt!

Machine Quilting on Gridwork

Wavy Grid is one of my go-to machine quilting designs! I quilted this quilt in a light gray-blue thread from my Piece and Quilt collection with Aurifil.

Quilt It

The first four quilts in the book are quilted completely with a walking foot (or in my case, the BERNINA dual feed which performs the exact same function.) Each quilt build skills as you go, so you’ll be a machine quilting pro in no time! Plus, with my “divide and conquer” method, you can quilt a few lines to stabilize the quilt, then decide at any point how densely you want to quilt it, without locking yourself into an overwhelming task!

More Gridwork inspiration

Check out these alternate versions below. Head to each blogger’s site for more about their process, see their finishes, and enter their giveaways!

Sandy Maxfield – Sandy Star Designs

Sandy's version of Gridwork

I’ve been hoarding my own bundles of Karen Lewis’ Blueberry Park line and I’m jealous at how easily Sandy from Sandy Star Designs was able to break into her precuts!! Here’s a hint – she actually cut the 10″ and 5″ prints from fat quarters, which is a great example of being able to use what you have on hand for successful results.

Don’t you think Sandy did a fantastic job combining the prints into a pleasing combination? The trick is to make sure there’s contrast in each block so none of them gets lost. You can do that by combing lights with darks, solids with prints or a myriad of other ways!

Gridwork quilting by Sandy

She did a fantastic job quilting wavy grid on her quilt. Don’t you just want to cuddle up with all that yummy texture? Be sure to pop over to Sandy’s blog to read more, and to enter her giveaway!

Joanne Harris – Quilts by Joanne

Gridwork by Joanne Harris

Joanne Harris from Quilts by Joanne really made this design look great with her fabulous yellow and gray color scheme. I once heard that the hallmark of a great quilt design is that it will look good in any fabric combination!

Don’t you just love that elephant print?? Now take a look at her blog to see how she decided to quilt it!

Teresa Mairal-Barreu – Sewn Up

Teresa M Gridwork

Teresa aka Teresa Down Under chose to make a smaller smaller version of Gridwork and I just love it! This goes to show that you don’t always have to use up an entire precut bundle, or make your quilt the exact same size.

Head over to Teresa’s blog to see a video of this “flimsy” (aka unquilted top) flapping beautifully in the breeze. Seriously, it will inspire you to want to make one right away!

Today’s Gift – Win a Bundle of 5″ or 10″ Squares

Christa Watson Designer Palette

My designer palette was originally created for Facets, from Machine Quilting with Style.
I’ve now used it to create several colorful quilts!

Today I’m going to give 2 lucky winners a fun prize! One person will win a layer cake of my Christa Watson designer palette and a second person will win a charm pack of the same fabric. Now the trick will be for both winners to find another layer cake or charm pack to go with them to make their own version of Gridwork! But isn’t a challenge fun?? (And in reality of course the winner can do whatever they’d like to with their fabrics!!)

To enter, leave me a comment letting me know what’s your favorite precut to work with. Me personally – I love fat quarters because I think they are the most versatile. But as a designer, I love coming up with creative ways to use these fun fabric bundles!

The giveaway is open to all (int’l winners just pay shipping) and I’ll choose a winner on Aug 31 which is the last day of the hop. Be sure and check in again tomorrow for the next quilt I’ll share along with more fabulous color options!

Griwork from Piece and Quilt with Precuts

If you make your own version of Gridwork, or any of the quilts from my book, please share your progress in my Facebook Group, Quilt with Christa. I’d love to see!

Click here to see all of the stops on the blog hop tour – you’re sure to be inspired!

Update: Winners Selected and Comments Closed

Congrats to Dian. H. and Hedy H. who have been contacted via email.

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Piece and Quilt with Precuts Blog Hop Celebration!

Guess what today is? It’s my birthday!! Whoo hoo! I’m of the opinion that things just get better with age, and each passing year is cause for celebration. So I thought, what better day to kick off my epic blog hop for Piece and Quilt with Precuts than today??

So to get us started, today I want to share links to each of the 30 fantastic bloggers that are joining me on this fun and inspiring journey, plus give a couple of sneak peeks of what’s coming up on the hop!

Inspiring Quilts From Me and My Friends

Each day starting tomorrow, I’ll share more details about each of the quilts in the book, and you can see how others interpreted the designs to make them their own. For example, check out this sneak peek of the beautiful quilts in progress from (clockwise) Sherri, Teresa, Nancy, and Jen.

You just may end up liking their versions better than the originals, and that’s totally ok!!  Hopefully once you see the versatility and variety of looks that can be made from my fun designs and your favorite precuts, you’ll be inspired to make them, too!

Sneak Peeks of Remakes from Piece and Quilt wtih Precuts

Stay tuned for the “final reveal” from 30 talented bloggers including these shown above!!
(The list of participating bloggers is at the end of this post.)

Gifts and Giveaways Galore!

Throughout the hop, we’ll celebrate by giving away tons of gifts! After all, what fun is a party without presents?? Some of the giveaways will be hosted here on my blog while others will be given away by the participating bloggers or other industry friends. So be sure and check back here each day as I send you on a fun scavenger hunt to score prizes and get inspired!

Giveaways for Piece and Quilt with Precuts Blog Hop

Just a few of the many “gifts” that will be given away during the hop!! Yes, it even includes a quilt – so check here every day for your chance to win some fabulous prizes!

A Present From me – Baby Geese Quilt Pattern

Let’s kick off this party with a present for all of you, since since you are ALL winners in my book!! The quilt shown below is called “Baby Geese” and it was made from scraps and leftovers of many of the other quilts in the book.

Click here to get the Baby Geese quilt pattern.

Baby Geese Quilt by Christa Watson

Because I included so many detailed instructions for each of the 11 quilts in the book, we didn’t have room to include this one. So think of it as bonus quilt pattern #12, just for you!!

If you’ve been on the fence about purchasing Piece and Quilt with Precuts, take a look at the layout and instructions given for Baby Geese. Just like all of the quilts in the book, the instructions are clear and easy to understand, with plenty of machine quilting eye-candy and step by step diagrams for you to follow. Chances are if you like this one,  you’ll love the rest!

Baby Geese Quilting

Click here to download the bonus pattern for Baby Geese.
I’ll be giving this quilt away at the end of the hop so stay tuned!

Blog Hop Schedule

Here’s the schedule of bloggers to follow with their names, links to their blogs, plus their Instagram handles so you can follow them there. After all, this is a talented bunch who you will want to get to know better!

Friday August 18 – Squiggles

Kathy Bruckman Blog: Kathy’s Kwilts and More IG: @kathyskwiltsandmore
Kate Colleran Blog: Seams Like a Dream IG: @seamslikeadreamquilts
Sharon Parcel Blog: Yellow Cat Quilt Designs IG: @punkydoodle53

Click here to see Christa’s version of Squiggles.

Saturday August 19 – Gridwork

Sandy Maxfield Blog: Sandy Star Designs IG: @sandystardesigns
Joanne Harris Blog: Quilts by Joanne IG: @turtlequilterjo
Teresa Mairal-Barreu Blog Sewn Up: IG: @teresadownunder

Click here to see Christa’s version of Gridwork

Monday August 21 – Frequency

Nancy Scott Blog: Masterpiece Quilting IG: @masterpiecequilting
Martingale’s Blog: Stitch This! IG: @martingaletpp
Lorinda Davis Blog: Laurel Poppy & Pine IG: @laurelpoppyandpine

Click here to see Christa’s version of Frequency

Tuesday August 22 – S.W.A.K.

Sherry Shish Blog: Powered by Quilting IG: @poweredbyquilting
Michelle Bartholomew Blog: Michelle Bartholomew IG: @michellebartholomew
Allison Dutton Blog: Allison Sews IG: @allisonsews

Click here to see Christa’s version of S.W.A.K.

Wednesday August 23 – Starstruck

Lissa LaGreca Blog: Lovingly Lissa IG: @lovinglylissa
Sherri Noel Blog: Rebecca Mae Designs  IG: @rebeccamaedesigns
Sandra Healy Blog: Sandra Healy Designs IG: @sandrahealydesigns

Click here to see Christa’s version of Starstruck

Thursday August 24 – Dot’n’Dash

Laura Piland Blog: Slice of Pi Quilts IG: @sliceofpiquilts
Cheryl Brickey Blog: Meadow Mist Designs IG: @meadowmistdesigns
Jen Frost Blog: Faith and Fabric IG: @faithandfabric

Click here to see Christa’s version of Dot’n’Dash

Friday August 25 – Twinkling Diamonds

Jessee Maloney Blog: Art School Dropout IG: @jessee_artschooldropout
Jessica Caldwell Blog: Desert Bloom Quilting IG: @desertbloomquilting
Anjeanette Klinder Blog: Anjeanette Klinder IG: @anjeanetteklinder

Click here to see Christa’s version of Twinkling Diamonds

Saturday August 26 – Windows

Terri Vanden Bosch Blog: Meanderings Along Lizard Creek IG: @lizardcreekquilter
Suzy Webster Blog: Webster Quilt IG: @websterquilt
Katie Joy Church Blog: Wild Prairie Studio IG: @katie_joyquilts

Click here to see Christa’s version of Windows

Monday August 28 – Kites

Pam Cobb Blog: The Stitch TV Show IG: @thestitchtvshow
Jen Rosin Blog: A Dream and a Stitch: IG: @adreamandastitch
Rashida Khanbhai Blog:  No. 3 Quilt Studio IG: @no3quiltstudio

Click here to see Christa’s version of Kites

Tuesday August 29 – Arrows

Lynn Kline Blog: Monkey Needle IG: @monkeyneedle
Kathy Bruckman Blog: Kathy’s Kwilts and More IG: @kathyskwiltsandmore

Click here to see Christa’s version of Arrows

Wednesday Aug 30 – Spools

Jen Shaffer Blog: Patterns by Jen IG: @patternsbyjen
Sandra Starley Blog: Textile Time Travels IG: @textiletimetravels

Click here to see Christa’s version of Spools

Piece and Quilt with Precuts by Christa Watson

Whew! That’s a whole lot of great people who will be participating! Be sure to follow their blogs and Instagram accounts. After all, part of the fun of quilt-making is the community behind it. And when you join us on this blog hop journey, you’ll get to know more fun quilting friends!!

Click here to purchase your signed copy of Piece and Quilt with Precuts

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Quilt in Progress – Exploring Ruler Work

I’m currently remaking one of my quilts from Piece and Quilt with Precuts while trying out something new at the same time. After all, if I’m not constantly pushing myself to try new things, the hobby that I love can get really old, really fast!! I’m creating another version of “Starstruck” from my new fabric so that I can showcase it at quilt market in the fall right before the fabric releases. (FYI  – it’s called Modern Marks from Benartex – available in November!)

Christa Watson Machine Quilting - Modern Marks Fabric

To keep a densely quilted quilt soft, I use cotton fabric, thread and batting. I’m using one layer of Hobbs Tuscany cotton and it is the softest ever. I love it!

I’m also trying out free-motion quilting straight lines using rulers rather than marking or using a walking foot. I have to say up front that it’s been a bit of a struggle and a HUGE learning curve! It’s a whole new movement for me, holding onto the quilt while also holding onto the ruler.

It’s also a bit awkward because where you stitch is actually 1/4″ away from the edge of the ruler to account for the width of the ruler toe. Like I teach my students, practice makes progress, so I’m not taking out any wobbles or wiggles in this quilt – it’s all part of the learning process!

Christa Watson Ruler Work Practice

I love combining straight lines with curvy motifs to create contrast in the quilting.

Right now I’m trying out two different rulers – one has handles on it to help better grip the quilt but the posts can get caught up on the back of the foot when I move it, causing tiny stitches to occur. I find that I get much better results if I keep the ruler on the front or side of the toe while I stitch.

Leah Day Ruler work template

Don’t you love how Leah’s template matches my fabric??? Serendipity at it’s best!!

The other rulers I’m trying out are from Leah Day’s set of Dresden Plate acrylic templates. She gave me a set to try out when we met for lunch at QuiltCon earlier this year, and I love how she so cleverly designed them to double as rulers for ruler work! I seem to get smoother lines without the handles. The smaller size is also ideally suited for a domestic machine since there’s not a lot of room on the bed of the machine.

Working on this quilt gives me renewed appreciation for any of my beginning students as they try free-motion quilting for the first time! Just as I teach my students that they will get better with practice, quilting on “real quilts” is the best way to learn and improve!

Christa Watson ruler work practiceI’m having fun trying out lots of different quilting motifs in the stars!

In this quilt, I’m outlining each of the starts by first stitching in the ditch. Then I quilt the middle of each star, then quilt two lines around each star. To make the quilting continuous I’m traveling over a small line after I complete each pass around the star, rather than starting and stopping.

Then I’m quilting a different free-motion design on the outside of each star to add more texture. Most of the quilting motifs I’m stitching come from my books, and a few are new ideas I’m trying out.

Christa Watson free motion quilting Starstruck from Piece and Quilt with Precuts

I love the “pattern on pattern effect!”

To keep it somewhat organized, I’m alternating with a pairing of curvy and geometric free-motion designs in each block. I chose to use a shade of yellow 50 weight cotton Aurifil thread from my Piece and Quilt Collection. It blends in nicely with most of the fabrics and adds a fun layer of pattern on pattern in some of the contrasting areas.

There are definitely some areas of the quilt that look better than others, but I love being a “perfectly imperfect quilter!” (I’m also a perfectly imperfect photographer, but I’d rather show real in-progress pics than nothing at all!)

I’ve learned by trial and error that the best way to hide imperfect stitches is to surround them with more imperfect stitches. 🙂

Yummy Texture created with free motion quiltign by Christa Watson

Can we say “yummy texture?!”

Because I have a longer time frame in which to complete this quilt, I’m really enjoying the process of quilting just a couple of stars each day, without feeling rushed.

I’m liking how this block below is turning out, using the ruler to free-motion quilt my “wonky square spiral” design that I usually teach using a walking foot. I definitely prefer quilting straight lines when they don’t have to line up perfectly!

Ruler work practice

(If you want to improve your ruler work skills check out Amy Johnson’s Craftsy classes on the subject: Quilting with Rulers on a Home Machine, and Creative Quilting with Rulers.)

I’ll be sure and share the final reveal later in the fall, so stay tuned!! Now I just have a few more blocks to finish and then I can relax and enjoy one of my favorite steps beside machine quilting – the hand binding….

What’s your favorite part of the quilt-making process? I’d love to know!

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Book Reviews: Walk and Free Motion Quilting 1-2-3

So by now I hope you all know how much I love incorporating BOTH walking foot and free-motion techniques in my quilts. So I thought it would be fun to share two of my favorite books on those two techniques! Jacquie Gering’s WALK is THE definitive guide to Walking Foot Quilting, and Lori Kennedy is a whiz at showing you how to create fabulous free-motion motifs step by step.

Walk by Jacquie Gering

I ran into Jacquie at quilt market last year and we both swapped copies of our books. I love how encouraging the quilting community is, even when many of us are teaching the same subjects!

By far one of my favorite things about WALK is that Jacquie shares her “wall basting” method in step by step photos. This is similar to the method I used, and it’s worth it to own this book just for this section! Of course, the rest of the book is fab, too as Jacquie walks you through over 60 different designs that you can do, all with a walking foot (or dual feed).

I love it how Jacquie sets you up for success through a series of “test drives” to get you comfortable with her process.

Walk by Jacquie Gering

Take a look at these two exercises from the book, shown in the photos above and below (photography credit Lucky Spool):

Walk by Jacquie Gering

Jacquie’s methods involve marking and are a little more precise than mine, but I love it that there are a whole range of options to explore. She gets you comfortable first with basic straight lines, and then she moves on to gentle curves, decorative stitches, and several designs you can do incorporating the reverse feature on your machine.

Whether you are new to walking foot quilting, or want to expand your horizons with this fast and fun technique, I encourage you to give WALK a try – you’ll be glad you did!

Free Motion Machine Quilting 1-2-3

Moving on to free-motion, take a look at Lori Kennedy’s debut book, Free-Motion Machine Quilting 1-2-3. Based on Lori’s step by step photo tutorials, this book is a beautiful center piece for you sewing room and I know you’ll spend time poring over its pages!

Free-Motion Machine Quilting 1-2-3 features over 400 photographs plus oodles of trouble shooting tips. My favorite part of the book is where she shows the difference between good and bad tension, and what to do to avoid thread buildups (it’s all about the starting and stopping point of each design). Just having a visual guide is such a huge help when you are learning to quilt!

Take a look at just two of the 60+ designs that are shared in the book (photography courtesy of Martingale/That Patchwork Place and Brent Kane):

Free-Motion quilting loops

Loops are a perennial favorite and probably the easiest design to learn! Follow Lori’s step by step tips and you’ll be finishing your quilts with a flourish!

Lori Kennedy Spirals

Once you learn Lori’s basic spirals, you can then move onto Spiral Rose, Spiral Heart, Reverse Spiral, and more! It’s like anything new: learn the basics and build your skills from there.

So whether you prefer to quilt with your walking foot, or free-motion or both, these books have got you covered. After all, even though I teach similar techniques, I always recommend that my students learn from several different sources. You ever know when someone is going to explain an idea in a different way that will resonate you!

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Road to California Registration Opens Saturday and I’m Teaching!

I’m heading to Road to California as a teacher next January and I couldn’t be more thrilled! But before I get into the classes I’m teaching, I have to tell you a story about how this amazing show has been part of my professional quilting journey.

Road to California 2018

Road to California was the first national quilt show I attended in 2011 and was the catalyst that made me want to enter my work in national shows and become a national teacher. It was also really the first time I started getting to meet some of my favorite “sew-lebrities” like Eleanor Burns of Quilt in a Day. Like many others before me, I watched her quilting TV series on PBS when I first got into quilting, and was instantly hooked on her warm, inviting teaching style and funny television antics (such as tossing scraps over her shoulder onto the floor behind her).

Christa Quilts Meets Quilt in a Day

Meeting Eleanor Burns at Rd 2 CA in 2011 was awesome. My bangs back then? Not so much!!

When I returned the following year in 2012, I took a class from award winning thread-painting artist Nancy Prince and we really connected. I ended up helping her out during a demo at the show and she was very encouraging when I mentioned that I wanted to become a national teacher and write books.

She turned to me and said, “I bet you’ll be back here as a teacher some day.” You can imagine how happy I was to run into her 5 years later at the Vermont Quilt Festival and tell her that her prediction had come true! (She even gave me a ride to the festival one day when we were teaching at the same location – what a peach!!) It’s amazing people like Nancy and Eleanor who’ve motivated me to always be kind and encouraging, especially to beginning quilters. And their willingness to pay it forward has been a great example for me to follow!

Christa and Nancy Prince

Meeting Nancy Prince in 2012 (and sporting a sleeker, shorter hairstyle).

My Road to California Teaching Schedule

And now before I get too sappy with all the warm fuzzies – onto the schedule! I’ll be teaching a total of 4 full-day free-motion quilting classes, Monday-Thursday, Jan 15-18, 2018. Click here to book mark the site. Registration opens on Saturday, July 8th at 7 AM Pacific Time, and classes can sell out quickly.

Click each of the links or images below for more info and a supply list for each class:

Monday, 8 AM -3 PM: Fun with Free-Motion Swirls

Christa Watson Road to California Teaching Schedule 2018This sample is from “Cornered,” showing how to combine swirls with other designs.

Tuesday, 8 AM -3 PM: Free Motion Designs with Lines

Christa Watson Rd 2 Ca 2018Plumb Lines” includes modern free-motion alternatives to straight line quilting.

Wednesday, 8 AM -3 PM: Free-Motion Improv

Free Motion Quilting Class with Christa Watson - Road to California 2018Free-motion improv” is a great way to show off all your favorite quilting motifs!

Thursday, 8 AM -3 PM: Modern Free-Motion Fillers

Modern Machine Quilting with Christa Watson at Rd to Ca 2018Modern machine quilting on “Candy Pop” means little to no marking, and tons of great texture!

All 4 classes will all be taught on sit-down longarm machines and the best part is that students will each get their own machine! I’ve taught at other shows in the past where students had to share and that’s kind of a bummer. But in these classes, you’ll have plenty of time to quilt and practice my motifs and methods. All l you need to bring are your sample swatches to practice on, and a “can-do” attitude!

Let me know if you plan to attend as I’d love to see you there!
Click here to see who else is teaching.

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Work In Progress – HST Remix

I am so excited that things have finally slowed down enough this summer that I can get back to working on some quilts that don’t have any set deadline! I originally made my HST quilt shown below a couple of years ago, then it got ruined in the wash when the “mild” wash powder I used bleached out some of the squares. (Note to self- stick with liquid detergent only!!)

HST Quilt

The original HST quilt – I still fits on my bed and is very warm and usable!!

The Remake – Improv Triangles

However, I loved the design so much that I had to remake it. I’m calling the new one HST Remix. I’m using the same Alison Glass batik fabrics as I had in the original, but the background fabrics are different and the fabric arrangement will be slightly different. One of the problems with the original is that I used a “textured” background fabric that had a lot of stretch. I never could get the quilt to hang straight. I do much better sticking with regular cotton fabrics, but it’s always fun to try something new, even if it doesn’t work out so well!

HST Remix in Progress

Because I’m working with leftovers from the first quilt, I didn’t have enough yardage to cut the squares large enough to make the half-square triangles so I improvised. And honestly I like the new blocks even better! I cut the yardage I had into straight strips with no wonky angles, then sewed them together randomly and cut them into the squares I needed. So many of them now have an improv look which I just love!

I also decided to make the blocks slightly larger the 2nd time around so that the overall quilt would be a few inches bigger.

Improv HST's

Some of my improv HST blocks in progress.

If this quilt turns out well, my plan is to enter it into a few upcoming quilt shows. That’s the one weird thing about me. It’s hard to make a quilt just for the sake of making a quilt. My quilts need a purpose, even if that purpose is just to delight a viewer at a quilt show!

Seams Pressed Open

Pressing Tips

Because the construction of this quilt includes a lot of bulky seams, I’ve pressed them open to help the quilt top lie flat. Contrary to popular myth, this will NOT weaken the seams. My tip for pressing seams open is to press with a hot dry iron so you don’t burn your fingers. First I open up the seams with my fingers or using a handy device called a wooden seam roller. (This is a device made for other applications but is one of my favorite tools for quilting!!)

I also use a shorter stitch length (2.0 rather than 2.5) when sewing the seams together to ensure they won’t split apart while handling.

Seams pressed open and pinned

The biggest question I get asked is how do I get the seams to align when they are pressed open? I use lots of pins and pin right through the intersections where the points are supposed to match. The nice thing about pressing seams open is that I never have to worry about which way they need to go! I also like to press seams open to prevent shadowing – which is what happens when you can see a darker fabric underneath a light one.

I’m also a pressing maniac. Pressing a lot (without steam) helps me keep the quilt top flat as I make it. I will usually sew 3-4 rows together and then press a section before sewing all the rows together. That way I’m dealing with less bulk under the iron at one time. When I press, I press from both sides – back and front. I want a nice, super flat quilt top!

Pressing Quilt Top

Pressing is very meditative for me – I listen to an audio book or podcast while I work.

Victory Lap!

Whenever I’m working on a quilt without borders (which is most of my modern quilts), there’s lots of seams along the edges. To secure them from splitting open, I take a “victory lap” around the quilt by stitching about 1/8″ in from the edges of the quilt. I’ll use a longer stitch length here which then gets covered up by the binding.

Victory lap around the quilt to secure the edges

Victory Lap – aka “topstitching” around the edges to secure the seams.

Now that the quilt top is finished it’s time to make a pieced backing and start thinking about how I want to quilt it. In the original, I quilted lots of straight lines and some fun spirals and pebbles as shown below.

Machine Quilting HST

Original HST Quilting Motifs

For HST remix, I still want to utilize straight lines and create a woven effect with the quilting, but I might change up the design a bit. In the original, I quilted straight lines vertically through the HST blocks and that was a lot of starting and stopping!! So this time around I’m thinking of quilting them diagonally instead so I can start and end off the quilt.

Whenever I’m trying to figure out how to quilt, I’ll print out a copy of my EQ7 design (or a photo of the finished quilt top) and I simply draw on top of it. I might come up with several different ideas, and it can look like a hot mess. So it may take a few tries until I come up with something I like. This is the method I teach in my Craftsy class, The Quilter’s Path – if I can create a pathway for myself to follow, the quilting doesn’t seem so overwhelming, even on a larger quilt!

Possible Quilting Plan for HST Remix

Here’s the finished quilt top. The picture isn’t so great because I just took it with my iphone and it’s actually larger than my design wall, so it’s wrinkling up a bit at the bottom. That’s my next note to self – make quilts that are smaller than my 8′ x 7′ design wall, LOL!! Jason will help me photograph it when the quilt is finished, so I’ll leave it to him to help me figure out how to take prettier pictures!!

HST Finished Quilt Top

I’ll post again when I’m ready to baste the quilt. Since I don’t have a deadline to complete this quilt, it may be a few more weeks (or months) before I can get back to it, but I sure do enjoy sharing my process. Hopefully you’ve been able to pick up a tip or two!

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What it’s Like to Judge a Quilt Show – My Experience at Vermont Quilt Festival

Now that I’m back and rested from my week at Vermont Quilt Festival, I thought I would tell you a little bit more about my experience judging the show with three other fabulous award winning quilters: Kathie Beltz, Kimberly Einmo, and David Taylor.

Judges at Vermont Quilt Festival

Kathie, Kimberly, Me and David – and no we didn’t match on purpose!!

This was my first time judging a large national show, although I’ve judged locally and online (checkout the Pantone Greenery 2017 winners here). I’ve also volunteered in the judging room of my local quilt guild’s show for many years, and I’m currently serving on the QuiltCon judging and jurying task force which is in the process of finalizing entry rules for next year’s show.

Each quilt show is unique with different rules, number of judges and methods, but they all have one thing in common: they are there to showcase a wide variety of quilts. Judges are instructed to give positive praise as well as helpful encouragement, and judges follow the rules given to them by the show.

Best Hand Quilting VQF

Best Hand Quilting – Cauterskill Rising by Janet Atkins of Athens, NY

VQF Judging

VQF is a non-juried show, which means that entries are selected by mailed in entry postmark, on a first-come first served basis until the number of quilts the show can accept has been met. (By contrast, a juried show means that you submit photos of your quilt and a small pool of jurors selects those that will be accepted for entry and judging.) For all quilt shows, judging is blind, which means that the judges have no idea who’s quilt they are judging. They may or may not have access to the name of the quilt, and the artists’ statement, but that’s it.

Best Machine Quilting VQF

Best Stationary Machine Quilting – Sapphires on Snow by Norma Ippolito of Chester, VT

For VQF, they hired 4 judges and each quilt (except for a couple of special categories) was judged by 3 of the four judges. So one person’s quilt was evaluated by judge A,B,C and another person’s quilt could have been examined by judge B, C, D etc. The entrants were not informed of which judges looked at their quilts, but each quilt received a total of 3 written judging sheets.

Example Judging Sheet for VQF

Example Judging Sheet for VQF

In this show, each quilt was given a numerical score with a total possible score of 100 points. Those that scored within a certain number were then giving a corresponding ribbon: 85-89 points – yellow (third place); 90-93 points – red (second place); 94-97 points – blue (first place); 98-100 points – purple (exceptional merit). What is unique about this show is that quilts were judged on their own merits rather than against other quilt. So this means that some categories could have multiple ribbons of the same color, while it’s possible that other categories may not receive any blues or purples, etc.

Best Mixed Techniques, VQF

Best Outside of USA – Flower Pots by Frances Firn Ceriko of Quebec, Canada

Each judge took a look at each quilt independently of the other judges, and 2 scribes were assigned to each judge to record their scores and comments. The entrant’s final score was based on the average of all 3 scores for the final point total. On the rare occasion that the three scores varied by more than 10 points from high to low, we judges got together – called a “conference” – to discuss why the variation occurred and then decided whether or not to adjust our scores. With hundreds of quilts to score and 4 judges with different voices, it was amazing how few times that happened!

Best Modern Quilt at VQF

Best Modern Quilt – It’s Universal by Anya Byam of Burlington, VT

Once we concluded judging each category, then it was time to move onto the special awards and “best of.” Some of the categories such as best applique, best use of theme, etc. were chosen based on their numerical score. Others such as best home machine quilting, best hand quilting, best piecing, etc. were chosen at our discretion. We were also able to choose 6-7 special additional awards and name those ourselves, such as  “best bling, best graphic quilt” etc. And of course each of us got to choose our own “judges’ choice” which was super fun – and hard to narrow down!

Best Vermont Quilt VQF

Best Vermont Quilt – Whiteout by Mara Novak, Norma Ippolito, Dona McKenzie, Carolyn Niesuchouski, and Lynn Way of Chester, VT

Throughout the judging, we each took notes on which quilts to consider for the special awards. Other than judges’ choice, we conferred with the other judges to make our final decision. It was quite surprising how many quilts overlapped on each of our lists.

Christa Watson judges choice at VQF

Christa’s Judges Choice – Going on a Trip II by G. Wong of Wellesley, MA

Then the best part was at the awards ceremony when each winners’ name was revealed. It felt like Christmas morning, eagerly anticipating the excitement of the recipients as their names were called. Many of them were actually there at the show and there’s nothing like seeing an excited quilter run up on stage to claim his/her award!

Overall, it was a fabulous experience, and I’d definitely do it again! Here’s a couple of general tips if you are considering entering your work at a local or national show:

Quilt Show Tips

  • Read the rules completely and do your best to put your quilt in the appropriate category.
  • Pay attention to details such as stray threads and fabric markings.
  • Stitch the corners of your binding closed (both sides), and take extra care to ensure the quilt hangs flat and straight.
  • Make sure the density of quilting is even across the entire quilt.

But above all, have fun with it and realize that although judges to their best to judge a quilt without bias, it’s human nature to be drawn to a quilt that is more in line with their style. So enter a variety of shows, knowing you will receive a variety of different opinions!

Best Scrap Quilt at VQF

Best Scrap Quilt – On the Fly by Timna Tarr of S. Hadley, MA

Quilt Show Venues

The number one question I get asked is how do I find out about which shows to enter? Start with your local friends, quilt shops and guilds and start asking around. There’s no one all-encompassing listing of shows to enter, but you can start by creating a list of shows you hear about and then get on their mailing lists so you’ll get notified when it’s time to enter. Then pay attention on social media to which shows other people are entering. You can google “quilt show competition entry” for lots of great info, too.

Here’s just a small list of shows I enter regularly, or like to encourage others to enter (in no particular order):

Feel free to add additional shows that you know of in the comments for all to see. If you have any questions about entering shows, feel free to ask them in the comments and I”ll be glad to answer them to the best of my abilities!

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I’m Back from Panguitch Quilt Walk 2017 and I Had a Blast!

It’s been awhile since I’ve shared an update after I’ve taught a class. I’m usually thinking ahead to the next one. But I got back early enough so I had time to look through my pictures and share a few snippets from my time at the Panguitch Quilt Walk Festival. No matter where I go, I always meet the same type of fun and friendly students in my classes. I have to admit, one of the reasons I love to teach is for the camaraderie!

Christa Watson Trunk Show

I arrived on Wednesday night with Jason and the kids in tow. We got settled in and each of the teachers who were there were able to quickly introduce themselves and let everyone know what they were teaching. Although my classes had filled up right away, they put me in a large home-ec classroom (all classes were taught at the local high school) so I told the organizers they were welcome to squeeze in as many people as there were seats.

Christa Watson Trunk Show

I shared about 20 quilts in my trunk show, all made beginning in 2013.

Thursday was my longest, busiest day. I started off with a trunk show of my quilts and shared a little bit about my quilting journey from traditional to modern quilter. I always like to include a little story about the making of each quilt along with some tips on how I quilted it.

Christa Watson Trunk Show

My Positive Direction quilt is always a crowd pleaser!

Then I taught two sessions of free-motion quilting that same day. I kept the classes moving at a fast pace that I didn’t even have time to stop and take pics! I like to teach ideas from all three of my books and then help the students think about them in new ways. It’s always a treat to see what they come up with!

On Friday, things slowed down a bit and I taught the first session of walking foot quilting while Jason and the kids did a little hiking at Bryce Canyon. Students usually agree that walking foot quilting is much easier to do than free-motion quilting, but several signed up for both classes and seemed to enjoy it.

Student Work from Walking Foot Quilting

Student Work from my Walking Foot Quilting Class – Wavy Grid

On Saturday I taught a second session of walking foot quilting, and then we came home. I was able to get a few pics in class and it always amazes me how students take a concept they learn in class and really run with it!

Student Work from Walking Foot Quilting

More Student Work – Shattered Linens is a huge favorite!

I’ll be home for just over a week before I head out to the Vermont Quilt Festival. I’ll be there for an entire week, judging along with Kimberly Einmo, then teaching four classes and sharing a trunk show.

As of today, there are still openings in each of my classes and my lecture. Click here for more info. Now it’s time to unpack, catch up on a few deadlines, and start packing all over again!!

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My Week at Craftsy – May 2017

It’s been a little bit quieter around here the last few weeks, because I’ve been hard at work getting ready to bring you some new exciting things coming this year! The first sneak peek I can share is that I just wrapped up filming on my next Craftsy class that will debut later this summer.

Christa on Set at Craftsy

This was my last day of filming and I got to cuddle up with the quilt I made on set once we finished. I’ll tell you more about this quilt when the class  is ready – it was so fun and fast to make!!

My new class is part of Craftsy’s debut “Startup Library” which consists of longer, in-depth courses across all of their major craft topics. They are aimed at beginners or those who may be involved in one craft, but want to try their hand at something new. I was so pleased to represent quilting!

Startup Library: Quilting with Christa Watson

I was there filming for a total of 5 days, and prior to that I worked with their great editorial team for months, honing in on the content that I’ll be presenting. In a nutshell, I got to focus on my favorite topic: teaching new students how to make a complete quilt from start to finish!

Christa with the Craftsy Crew

Christa and the Craftsy crew – we made a great team! And yes, there were smoothies….

On Set at Craftsy

My fabulous  content editor, Linda Permann helped me baste on camera. I wanted to make sure I included this important step, and I love that she got to cameo as my “helper!”

Returning to Craftsy for a second time was much less stressful because I knew a little bit more about what to expect this time around, such as getting my hair and makeup professionally done each day, and knowing that we would put in long hours of work which would get edited down to just a few minutes. I love the magic of television!!

Christa Watson and Angela Walters at Craftsy

Angela Walters and I took turns in the hot seat getting professionally made up each day by the lovely and talented Danica. This is was my favorite way to start each day!

While I was there, I got to mingle with a couple of others on set who were also filming their next projects. Angela Walters happened to be there at the beginning of the week, filming the next season of The Midnight Quilt Show.

Joshusa John Russell: Man About Cake

And Joshua John Russell from Make About Cake was there at the end of the week, gearing up for the next series of episodes for his popular YouTube show. Behind the scenes fact: I asked him how much cake he ate in each episode and he told me he never touches the stuff. True story!!

Now that I’ve written three books and filmed two classes, I can really appreciate the similarities and differences between both types of delivery. A book is a longer, slower sort of project, while a video class has a much quicker turnaround, but is also more intense. I’ve realized that I love creating both types of products, and I’m so grateful work with people who have a knack for editing and polishing my content so that I can look my best!

Stay tuned for more, and in the meantime, if you haven’t purchased my first class yet, you can click here to get 50% off of The Quilter’s Path. (Be sure to add the class to your cart to see the discount.)

The Quilter's Path by Christa Watson

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